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Quality Control: Creating the New Look of the Game

Target Audience? Check That Bloody Stain on Your Chest.

Joshua Brain Jaffe
November 2, 2000

Aight, here we go again

Sorry about the delay people, but first I had serious health problems, then I notice rpg.net is all screwy then serious computer problems (which I am still hashing out. God bless Tekserve, The reliable old Mac service center) well, forget it. Here I am, writing to you, so on with the column.

I am sitting on the West Side of the Hudson River, in a beautiful little spot Frank (SCS art director and one of my best friends) found after one of my band's shows. We are now sitting directly across from the infamous 42nd street, after another one of my shows (which I can gladly say went rather well. I am also rather tired). You can see the lights of Times Square easily from here. Unlike Times Square, however, this spot is quiet, serene and makes me totally realize just how much I want to live in New York City.

Now, as everyone knows, living in Manhattan requires one thing. Money, and lots of it. I certainly do not live for money, and am not in this business to make tons of money. Not that that isn't a great idea, however. I know you are all thinking one thing right now: You expect to make money in the roleplaying industry? You are a bigger fool than I thought. Well, my friends, this brings me to the most recent debate that got nice and heated on the forums. Target audience.

Who is my target audience? 19 to 24 year old gorgeous yet intelligent strippers who find nothing sexier than a dreadlocked, pierced and tattooed white guy who does layout and design for a well-written, religious themed, yet edgy roleplaying game. Ok, back to the real world. For one, I have a girlfriend already (Sorry ladies, and calm the coronary, Mel, I was just kidding) and for two, we know this is not going to happen. I am more so talking about having your target audience be exactly who you want it to be. Everyone has a target audience, the real question is, how good is your aim?

Now, I have been catching some flack on this point. Questions were asked about my target audience, and people got annoyed when I didn't respond right away. In the future, guys, if I don't respond on the forums, it means you posed such a good question that I saved my answer for my column. If I really had a problem with anyone's comment, I would have responded. Possibly a little too hastily, but hey, I guess you can call me "Pidge Shady" ,er, the real Pidge Shady.

So, people on the forums tell me that most gamers are around 30 years old, and that they buy the most games because they have the most dispensable income. Well, first off, I've seen the official numbers. You guys are sort of right. People 30 years old and up are the largest single demographic in gaming. 30% in fact, but you missed one thing. 12-30 year olds makes most of the remaining 66%, leaving 4% for those younger and older. Hell, I started gaming at 8. I started with TMNT during the famous Turtle era of the late 80's (meeting Eric Wujick at GenCon was quite a thrill.)

Seems gaming has been appealing to more new gamers than originally thought, huh? I suppose most gamers who respond to these forums are around 30, but you guys need to keep in mind that you who post are only a small percentage of those who lurk, and ALL of you are only about 30% of the market in whole. I'm not saying this to insinuate that your opinions do not count or anything (as I can feel the heat of the flames starting up already, so please guys, try to stay civil). I am saying, however, that maybe sometimes you guys need to realize you aren't always the last word on gamers and gaming demographics (ok, I asked for it, but the truth is the truth. Skarka Jerusalem told me all about it.)

As far as this "dispensable income" issue goes, well, let me just say that the largest CD-buying public in America is 11-13 year old girls. Yup. You always wonder who buys all these *Nsync and Britney albums, well, there you go. There are a LOT of them out there. I know I am not designing CDs, I am designing RPGs, but I figure if I can appeal to say, 2% of the MTV market, all of SCS will be driving Lamborghini's and Bugatti's, laughing all the way to GenCon. Sure, you all think I am complete fool for saying this, and "know" this is an impossible goal of mine, but you get nothing by shooting for the ground. We at SCS may be stars, but it doesn't stop us from trying to shoot for them. I know I may never be rich, but it doesn't sound bad.. Money isn't even any goal of mine. I want to enjoy myself and design a game that I think looks great and represents the top of my ability. I happen to like modern hip-hop styles and designs, and I know I see more things in pop culture representing these styles then, say, fantasy and textbooks. Except, of course, textbooks, but I am not designing a textbook, am I? Once again, I know many of you disagree with this, but hey, welcome to America, enjoy the freedom of speech.

So I guess in many way I am going to try something new, and I guess it's really up to the public to decide how it does. Not just you guys reading this right now, either, but the ENTIRE public. Many gamers seem to forget about all those "normal" people who don't game, but just might if they saw a good inexpensive book that looked cool to THEM. Here's my question for you guys, to close, how many of you watch MTV on a regular basis? My guess is not too many, and all of you who don't watch much MTV are probably a fair amount of you who think I am some wanna-be fool who is going to ultimately fail by trying to sell hip-hop culture to gamers or something. Well trust that there is obviously much more going on here at this crazy outfit we call SCS.
Peace out.

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What do you think?

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